Welcome to www.SeattleBagTax.org. This site has been put together in order to compile the numerous articles, studies and information that Seattle citizens should look at as they consider their position on the approved bag tax and polystyrene ban. If you know of other articles or studies please contact us and we will add them to the list.

Who are we? We are a group of economists who make up the Northwest Economic Policy Seminar. We have no connections with the plastic bag industry and have received no remuneration in any form for looking and commenting on this issue. Our mission at the Seminar is to use our skills and training to help inform the public and develop and comment on public policy issues.

The Seattle City Proposal and the study commissioned by the city on the issues are the primary policy documents for the bag tax and polystyrene ban. A study we did on our own and a letter we sent to the City Council and Mayor are the only pieces we have produced. The rest of the information is from elsewhere around the world. We recommend as you go through them that you note the authorship. Though most of the articles and research looks clean, much of it is by industry groups who may have an interest in the issue.

Our own conclusion is that the tax and the ban are going to have little if any effect on the environment and may well waste resources that could be better used elsewhere such as adopting a program similar to New York City's private/public plastic bag recycling initiative. (see our Letter to the Seattle City Council and Analysis of the Seattle Bag Tax and Foam Ban Proposal).

We hope you look carefully at all the information compiled here and that it helps you come to a well-informed opinion of the proposed bag tax and styrofoam container ban.

Seattle Resources

Voters Reject 20-cent Bag Fee

Last modified on August 21, 2009 by Site Administrator

On August 18th, Seattle voters rejected the 20-cent grocery bag tax/fee. Voters opposed the ordinance by a large margin, 58 percent to 42 percent. Neither paper nor plastic bags will be taxed at grocery checkout lines. A similar policy, banning styrofoam containers, was not on the ballot for referendum and will remain in effect.

Proposed Foam (EPS) Ban and Fee on Disposable Shopping Bags
from the Seattle City Council website
Proposal to Tax Disposable Shopping Bags
Original Proposal to Tax Disposable Shopping Bags"
Original Proposal to Ban Styrofoam Containers

Ordinance on the Disposable Bag Fee and Styrofoam (EPS) Ban
from the City Clerk's Office as of August 14, 2008
Disposable Bags:
Ordinance No. 122752, Council Bill No. 116251

Syrofoam Containers:
Ordinance No. 122751, Council Bill No. 116250

Alternatives to Disposable Shopping Bags and Food Service Items
Prepared by Herrera Environmental Consultants, Inc.
for Seattle Public Utilities
January 2008
Volume I
Volume II


"Stuff It: The Plastic Bag Debate" on KUOW Radio, August 10, 1009

"Seattle to Vote on Grocery Bag Fee" on KPLU Radio, August 9, 2009

"Up Front" [Video] with King5 News, August 2, 2009

2009 News Briefing

November 5 - 'Got Your Bags?' Campaign Kicks Off in San Diego from Reuters
In an effort to promote its statewide plastic bag recycling law, California kicked off the "Got your Bags?" public awareness campaign. This program aims to educate the public on the benefits of reusable bags and urges consumers to return plastic bags to the in-store recycling bins required by state law. See our California page for the full story.

September 16 - SF Plastic Bag Ban May be Expanding from KCBS
San Francisco Supervisor Ross Mirkirimi plans to introde an ordinance that will require that grocers pay a refund to customers who bring in their own canvas bags and to include a ban on paper bags as well. Targeted areas for expansion of the San Francisco ban include East Bay shoreline from Richmond to Emeryville and Candlestick Point.

August 21 - Unveiling a Plastic Bag Ban in Mexico City from the New York Times
As of August 2009, disposable plastic grocery bags were banned in Mexico City. The legislation, passed in March, requires all stores to provide biodegradable bags to customers. Yet there is a one-year grace period before the policy will be enforced by authorities and many deails have yet to be straightened out. Are produce bags exempt? What are the penalties for non-compliant retailers? These are a few issues that will likely arise in the coming months.

August 19 - No more plastic bags for Mexico City from CNN
Mexico City became the second largest metropolitan area in the Western Hemisphere to outlaw plastic bags in August. The law affects all stores in the city of 9 million residents. Cited concerns included litter and marine life deaths.

August 19 - Seattle Votes Down Fee on Bags from the New York Times
A proposed 20-cent fee on plastic and paper bags at many retail stores in this city was headed for defeat in a voter referendum here late Tuesday.

August 9 - Big $: Anti-Seattle bag tax bucks break fundraising records from the Seattle P.I.
"Fueled by big bucks from big plastic, campaign contributions in this year's Seattle elections have already hit almost $4 million - about 60 percent more than was raised during the entire 2005 election cycle."

August 2 - - Edmonds bans plastic bags from King5 News
Edmonds has become the first city in the state to ban disposable plastic grocery bags at retail stores.

July 29 - Palo Alto settles lawsuit over plastic bag ban from Mercury News
The city setted a lawsuit out of court with Save the Plastic Bag Coalition. Palo Alto city officials agreed to conduct a full environmental impact report before expanding the ban to other retail stores in the city.

July 23 - Fund to fight bag fee will top $1M from the Seattle Times
Shortly after its $500k donation, the Chemistry Council has given another $300k to fight the bag tax. The Seattle Green Bag campaign, so far has raised only about $64,000.

July 20 - Plastics industry gives $500k to stop Seattle bag tax from the Seattle P.I.
Seattle’s Ethics and Elections Commission has reported that Coalition to Stop the Seattle Bag Tax received a $500,000 donation from the American Chemistry Council. The ACC has donated over $700,000 to the campaign.

July 17 - Poll: Seattle disposable bag tax is going down from the Seattle P.I.
A newer poll conduct by Survey U.S.A. shows that the Seattle bag fee and Styrofoam ban is losing popularity among voters. The ordinance is now opposed by 51%.

June 26 - Poll: Seattle may say 'no' to grocery bag tax from the Seattle P.I.
"A new Survey USA poll done for KING5 TV shows that Seattleites may finally say 'no' to a tax proposal..."

June 21 - NC House OKs Plastic Bag ban On Outer Banks from MyNC.com
"The House voted 78-41 on Thursday to require stores to use paper bags or have their customers bring in reusable bags. The bag ban would only effect large stores on the tourist-centric islands of Dare, Currituck and Hyde counties..."